Hammers battle past ten-man Toon

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 1-0 Newcastle United

West Ham United returned to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday, as Aaron Cresswell's first goal for the Club proved sufficient to see the Hammers past high-flying Newcastle United at the Boleyn Ground. 

On the back of five successive league wins, Alan Pardew's men were always likely to prove a stern test and so it proved in a competitive if uneventful opening 45 in east London. 

But the game turned on a slice of good fortune and a fabulous finish in the 56th minute, as Cheikhou Kouyate's scuffed strike fell for Cresswell in the box, whose first-time finish in front of the Bobby Moore Stand was unerring. Moussa Sissoko lost his head late on to earn two cautions in a matter of seconds and leave his side a man light, as Sam Allardyce's men stood strong to secure a first win in four and climb back up to fifth.         

Following their respective injuries on international duty, Stewart Downing and Cheikhou Kouyate returned to the fold, though Saturday's clash came too soon for Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Alex Song.     

With Winston Reid suspended, Matt Jarvis was handed his first start of the campaign, while Andy Carroll again led the line for the Hammers. Mark Noble, meanwhile, shook off the knock that forced him off prematurely at Goodison Park to take his place in the XI and in doing so surpass Steve Potts' Club record of 204 Premier League appearances.

It was the visitors, however, who were first into their stride and went close inside three minutes. Ayoze Perez controlled Yoan Gouffran's centre, but thankfully dragged his effort wide of Adrian's goal.

At the other end, Carroll's flick-on sent Jarvis in the clear and after he had squared to Downing, Rob Elliot was called into action to gather the England man's low drive.   

With quarter-of-an-hour gone, Massadio Haidara's left-wing cross caused alarm in the Hammers box, but the alert Aaron Cresswell was on hand to snuff out the danger. Kouyate then led the charge on the break, but slipped at the vital minute and so sliced his attempted cross into the away fans stationed in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.    

Forward the Toon came again, this time through Sissoko. He fed Perez and as the Spaniard looked to engineer the space for a shot, James Tomkins stuck out a boot and stopped the No.17 in his tracks.

The Spaniard was involved again soon after, applying a deft touch to Sammy Ameobi's left-wing cross, only to see his clever effort career into the side netting.

With three first-half minutes still to play, Carroll rifled a shot into Williamson and though West Ham appeals were vociferous, referee Mike Dean was unmoved. So goalless at the break in a game that regularly threatened to burst into life, but never quite did.     

Downing was straight back into his running after the interval and having collected from Kouyate, cut inside onto his weaker right foot and blazed over the angle from 20 yards. Jack Colback had a go too, but his effort sailed into the crowd as well.     

Visiting 'keeper Elliot was soon breathing a sigh of relief as he came flying off his line to punch a James Collins free-kick away, missed it altogether and watched it drift wide of the near post.

Their escape was short-lived, however, with Cresswell soon celebrating his first goal in Claret and Blue. Downing rolled it across the box to Kouyate, whose scuffed effort fell perfectly into the path of the full-back. Having continued his run from deep, Cresswell finishedwith aplomb, steering past Elliot with his trusty left foot.

In reply, Haidara's long-range effort from a free-kick was wayward, before Sissoko's minute of madness saw the midfielder depart the scene early. The No.7 was firstly carded before booting the ball away in disgust and then seconds later received a second caution for an ill-advised challenge on Carroll.

With Newcastle now, by necessity, pushing men forward, West Ham had several an opening to land the killer blow. Downing, for one, broke free down the left, but his ball across the face was tucked behind before Carroll could get there at the far post.

Zarate tried his luck from the edge of the box and was denied a second goal in as many weeks by a flying stop from Elliot. From the resulting corner, Tomkins' header looked to be heading in, only to cannon in to substitute Kevin Nolan on the line and out of harm's way.

Downing also had a chance late on to settle it, but from an acute angle he dragged his effort wide as West Ham would have to endure a nervy four minutes of stoppage time to see out a sixth league win of the campaign.

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Tomkins, Collins, Noble (c), Kouyate (Nolan 85), Downing, Amalfitano, Jarvis (Zarate 70), Carroll 
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Demel, O'Brien, Vaz Te, Cole  

Goal: Cresswell 56

Booked: Noble, Amalfitano, Zarate

Newcastle United: Elliott, Janmaat (Taylor 74), Haidara, Williamson, Dummett, Colback, Tiote (c) (Cisse 63), Gouffran (Cabella 63), Sissoko, Ameobi, Ayoze  
Subs: Alnwick, Anita, Riviere, Armstrong 

Booked: Williamson, Colback, Sissoko  
Sent off: Sissoko

Referee: Mike Dean